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Behind the Scenes of Falling Kingdoms

Updated: Oct 31, 2021



It’s been a minute, my friends! I don’t have any shiny news to share with you at this very moment, but I thought I’d check in and say “hi!” and share with you a little something that Falling Kingdoms fans might find interesting…….

The original ending of Gathering Darkness!!

I’m going to put a spoiler break here, since there are spoilers ahead! ***********

Some people ask if I knew exactly how the story was going to end as I started it. Nope! I sure didn’t! I learned a lot as I wrote each draft, about the world, the characters, the magic, the mythology. This is an excellent example of how the series could have gone in a VERY different direction halfway through the series than it actually did.

Oh, and this is obviously before any proofreading or copyedits, so it’s pretty raw, but I hope you enjoy this peek behind the scenes!

Note: in this original draft, Felix working against them from the get-go. He’s lucky he was so darn fun to write or he would have gotten the ax! Literally and figuratively! 😂

***

Original Last Chapter of the first draft of FALLING KINGDOMS #3: Gathering Darkness

They approached the gates set into the north face of the stone wall. It was almost amusing how much the compound resembled a very small and very poor version of the City of Gold. This was the City of Dirt.

The chieftain had lived high enough here, though, compared to the majority of Paelsians. Thanks to the hefty wine tax on every bottle produced that had gone directly to him, this wasn’t surprising.

But the chief was dead now. This Paelsia was an orphan, ruled by default by the King of Blood.

Jonas didn’t waste any time. He shoved open the gates and went inside, a path he’d walked months ago when he’d been granted audience with the chief.

“Is it true you were involved with the chief’s daughter?” Lysandra asked. “She danced with snakes, didn’t she?”

“Very well, too.”

“I’ll take that as a yes.”

“Who told you that?”

“Doesn’t matter anymore.”

It must have been Brion. Jonas almost smiled at the memory. Laelia Basilius had been a shallow girl, but it hadn’t been completely unpleasant to work his way into her good graces—and her bed—so she’d introduce Jonas to her important and influential father.

“She had her uses.”

She gave him a sour look. “I wonder if she feels the same about you now.”

“Last I heard, she thought we were betrothed.” At Lysandra’s look of shock, he laughed. “We’re not.”

“Let’s hope your paths never cross again in case there’s a wedding to attend.”

“That is definitely something to avoid at all costs. Besides, I’m not interested in her as part of my future. I have more important things to accomplish. Where do you think we should do it?” At her sharp look, he couldn’t help but grin. “The ritual.”

He hadn’t been able to coax a smile from her today, which didn’t surprise him that much. It had been a difficult journey from Limeros as they tried very hard to beat Felix to this location. They hadn’t seen any sign of him, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t close.

Lysandra scanned the area. There were dirt paths leading off to a labyrinth of small cottages and Chief Basilius’s large villa in the center. “How about that clearing?”

The clearing was the location of the chief’s bonfires, feasts, and nightly entertainment. When Jonas had been here last there had been several very beautiful topless dancers entertaining the chief.

“Why are you grinning?” Lysandra asked.

“Just dealing with a few memories.”

“Deal with this.” She handed him her dagger. “I cleaned it especially for you.”

“You’re not volunteering this time.”

“You’re so good at making yourself bleed, why would I want to get in the way? Why? Do you want me to do it this time?”

“No.” Jonas took the blade from her, found a spot on his forearm this time, and sliced. This was the fifth time he’d done this so it was a familiar pain.

He crouched down and with the blood that welled from the cut, he drew the spiral symbol for air on the parched ground. “Let’s hope it works this time.”

Lysandra gave him a tense look as a breeze picked up, circling around them in a whirlwind that made their breath catch. Jonas used a new piece of cloth to bind his wound, his gaze tracking around the area.

“Jonas, over there.” Her voice was tight. She pointed at a spot where the bonfire had once been, now only a scorched circle in the center of the clearing.

Something was there, the sunlight glinting off of it. A crystal.

A moonstone.

His chest tight, Jonas pulled another cloth out of his pocket and approached the crystal, bending over and picking it up without the surface of it touching his skin.

“It didn’t bother Felix,” Lysandra said.

“I’d rather not take any chances.”

“That’s it, isn’t it?”

“Unless there’s another crystal about to appear out of absolutely nowhere after I bleed on the ground, yes, this is it.”

He wouldn’t risk this one. He had to get it somewhere safe until he could make contact with Cleo. She probably wondered where he’d disappeared after claiming the Earth crystal. He hadn’t realized he’d be dealing with a traitor like Felix.

Still, one crystal was better than no crystals at all.

Lysandra clutched his arm. “Jonas…”

He glanced at her with surprise. “What?”

“We have company.”

He turned slowly, his heart sinking, to see that she was absolutely right. Of course, he expected to see that Felix had caught up to them.

Felix was definitely there. But behind him were at least twenty guards in red uniforms.

And King Gaius himself.

“You were right, Felix,” the king said. “Here he is, the infamous Jonas Agallon, the murderer of my beloved wife and queen.”

“Oh, your highness,” Jonas said, sounding a great deal more confident than he currently felt, “everyone knows that was a lie. Aron Lagaris killed your wife. He was your kingsliege, if I’m not mistaken, wasn’t he? Sounds like someone who took orders extremely well.”

“I must admit, I’m not entirely sure what to do with you.” The king’s gaze shifted to Lysandra. “Or you. Shall I take you to my dungeon again and risk some last minute escape that disappoints a crowd thirsting for a show of blood? Or shall I kill you here and be done with it?”

“Deal with me however you want,” Jonas said. “But let Lysandra go.”

“Not a chance. She will die at your side, rebel.”

“Sorry, Jonas,” Felix said, shrugging. “You gave me no choice.”

“Really. No choice at all other than this?”

“The cost of a raven to send a message from Limeros to Auranos was steep, but I believe it was worth it in the end. If I hadn’t, the king and his men never would have arrived in time.”

“That would be a shame.”

Jonas wasn’t sure what to do, how to maneuver his way out of this. He could handle a few guards, certainly, especially with Lysandra at his back. But twenty or more? And there was only one entrance into the compound unless they wanted to scale the twenty foot walls, and that entrance was currently blocked by a small army.

“The crystal,” King Gaius said. “Hand it over.”

“That’s not going to happen.”

The king looked as if he hadn’t slept in days. There were dark circles under his eyes and his face showed signs of strain. He appeared much older than the last time Jonas saw him.

“Felix,” he said.

“Yes, your majesty.”

“Where is the Earth crystal?”

“I have it in a safe place.”

“Why isn’t it here as we agreed?”

“I want an assurance that you’ll pay me.”

“Don’t insult me, boy. Of course I’ll pay you. You’ve delivered to me the means to claim two crystals and also apprehend Jonas Agallon, you will be paid very well indeed. Now tell me where the Earth crystal is.”

Jonas eyed Lysandra. Her attention was totally focused on Felix. He knew that she liked the mercenary despite everything that had happened, that she thought she saw something more in him than Jonas did. Jonas had thought he’d seen a true friend in Felix, in the beginning. But he’d been fooled. He refused to be fooled again.

“Can you use it?” Lysandra said to him under her breath.

He glanced down at the piece of moonstone he’d wrapped in the protective cloth. There was a strange shadow within it, much like the Earth crystal. A strand of darkness that swirled around and around. “Felix couldn’t do more with the other crystal than the most minor magic. It won’t help us here today.”

“Then we’re dead, simple as that.” She reached down to take his hand in hers, finally giving him a shaky grin although her eyes shone with emotion. “It’s been good to fight at your side, Jonas. It started a little rough between us, I know, but I mean that. You’ve become so important to me…I hope you know that.”

“No, Lys. Don’t talk like that. We’re not giving up yet.”

“Maybe I’m more of a realist than you are. There’s no way out of this.”

“Let me make this very clear, Felix.” The king’s voice was brittle, angry and impatient. “Tell me where you hid the crystal and I won’t have to take you back to my dungeon and torture the information out of you.”

Felix’s brows shot up. “You’d do that?”

“Oh, yes. I would do that. Do not challenge me, boy. I have not had a pleasant week, to say the least. I came out here, leaving the sanctity and safety of the palace for this wasteland that I despise, so I could claim what you promised. I will not leave here with only one crystal in my possession.”

He flicked a finger at a guard, who pointed his sword at Felix’s throat.

“Huh,” Felix said. “Will you look at that, Agallon? I guess you were right after all.”

“Idiot,” Jonas growled. “Nice of you to finally realize it.”

“I do have a theory about the crystals, though.”

Were they really having a conversation right now, moments before the king unleashed his guards to slaughter them all?

“Oh? And what’s that?”

“One crystal doesn’t work too well on its own. But two, on the other hand—” He fished into his pocket and pulled out the piece of obsidian. “That might work better.”

King Gaius inhaled sharply at the sight of it. “You lied to me.”

“Yeah, I really did. Jonas, catch.” Felix tossed the crystal at Jonas and he caught it in his bare left hand.

“Damn it. Fine, I’ll try.” Jonas discarded the cloth so he could hold the piece of moonstone in his other hand. “All right, anything would be good here. Anything at all.”

He had no idea what to do now to harness the magic. He was no sorcerer. He’d only started to believe in magic in recent weeks.

However, there was that whispered rumor in his family that an ancestor had once been an exiled Watcher.

Jonas gasped as something stabbed at him through his hands. “What—?”

The crystals began to glow like hot coals. He tried to drop them when the burning pain intensified.

“Jonas, what’s happening?” Lysandra gasped. “What are you doing?”

“I don’t know. I’m not trying to do anything!”

A band of light began to snake out of the crystal and wind around his arms, tightening like boa constrictors. The bands of light wrapped around his chest, his throat, swirling like a tornado all around him. He couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think. There was only the searing pain and the sensation that he was being torn apart.

He realized he was screaming a moment before the pain ceased.

He fell to his knees, gasping for breath. His body ached, as if he’d been struck by lightning and then mauled by a pack of wolves. He was surprised that blood didn’t drip from every part of his body.

The crystals were gone. Someone must have taken them while he suffered. He pushed against the cracked ground to get back up to his feet, casting a worried look toward Lysandra. She stared at him with shock rather than the concern he expected for what he’d just endured.

Then he glanced toward the guards, the king, and Felix.

Instead of surging forward and killing him where he stood, each of them, one by one, sank to their knees until only King Gaius and Felix remained standing.

“What are you doing, your majesty?” Felix growled, but he didn’t move his gaze away from Jonas. “Kneel.”

Stunned, Jonas watched as the king did exactly that, lowering himself to his knees, his jaw tight, his expression one of utter and absolute shock.

“What is going on here?” Jonas managed.

“The crystals,” Lysandra said, her voice strained. “Jonas…your hands…”

His hands? He looked down at his hands. On his left palm was what appeared to be the brand of a spiral. On the other, a circle within a circle.

The symbols began to glow.

“You’re a god now, Jonas,” Lysandra whispered. “The god of Earth and Air. And even the King of Blood kneels before you.”

**

Right? Verrrryyyy different indeed! I’m glad I didn’t go in this diection, but the idea of the poor winemaker’s son becoming the most powerful being in Mytica certainly did have its charms. ❤️


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